Beyond the structures and systems, a company is nothing more than a collection of people! Or as one of CBI’s participants said to me last year “companies are not money, trees or land – but companies are people!”. Thinking about your companies in terms of ‘people’, there’s a natural progression to think about relationships.

People form relationships – family relationships, friendships, colleagues working together. In fact, we are in relationship to our surroundings all the time. It’s a bit like data-streaming – we send and receive information constantly and adapt our responses accordingly. If we plan our day’s activities and it starts raining, we make adjustments. If we’re talking to some-one who becomes angry, we make adjustments.

There is interrelationship, interconnection and interdependence in all interactions – whether it’s between you and your employees, surrounding communities, customers and suppliers or between you and the crop you grow and between the crop and the land – that’s why you test water quality, take soil samples, check weather forecasts, provide training and PPE (personal protective equipment). And maybe even talk to your plants and trees (I know I do!)

Everything has to do with everything else! That’s the simple basis for Responsible Business Practice – we don’t live and work in a vacuum. Or, as I heard a while back, “you can’t take the grape out of the wine”.

Realize the implication this has for your company! Every business decision, every business activity   has consequences for people, impacts the environment and affects your profitability. Responsible Business Practice means considering what these consequences, impacts and effects are (or can be) before acting. It’s about finding the balance between our desire for action and the real need to think about our values and principles – it’s two sides of the same “business” coin, not two separate coins.

Often business people say to me “Dana, I don’t have time for this” – my response is usually to ask “Do you have time to run your company?”. Then they give me a look of complete surprise and answer “yes, of course!”. And that’s the crux – you are running your company anyway, every day – the question is simply “How?” – how are you running your company? What choices are you making? Are there alternatives – can you do this differently?

As I said in previous blogs, it’s a process and it requires practice – taking the first step and then the next, slowly developing a (more) responsible business.

How can JEPA help? By providing information on the website, by organizing on-topic seminars/webinars, by organizing field trips to existing projects already working this way…